Halloween: The True Story

For naysayers of this festive holiday, calling it the “devil’s holiday,” here is a quick reminder of where it came from and why it’s ok to let lose & have a little fun on this less-than-sacred day.

 

November 1st used to represent the beginning of the year on the Celtic calendar before Christ.  The festival celebrated on this day was called Samhaim, believed to be a time of year when the ghosts of the dead were most able to mingle with the living because they were moving on to the otherworld.  In 610 A.D. Christians celebrated All Saints Day on May 13th but in 741 A.D. moved the festival to November 1st, concerned that so many Christians were becoming overly engaged in this pagan holiday.  (Sound familiar?  Christmas wasn’t always celebrated on December 25th either.)  All Saints Day or All Hallows was a day dedicated to remembering the saints that were martyred in the earliest days of the Christian church.  So Halloween, “the eve of the holy ones,” was meant to be a night of remembering those who died for the faith, just as Christians still celebrate Good Friday, remembering Christ’s sacrifice.  This sounds much more similar to The Day of the Dead, El Día de los Muertos, also celebrated on October 31st in Mexico.  This Catholic holiday also began before Christ with the Aztec culture but is now celebrated internationally, intertwined with current Halloween customs.

 

Halloween is the evening prior to the holy day, the most likely day you could expect to see fairies, ghosts, demons, and other unearthly creatures roaming about. People try to deter these spirits’ (and their masked impersonators’) trickery by offering treats.  Jack-o-lanterns and bonfires are meant to scare them away, to keep them from the living.  So if you are the superstitious type, it may be best to keep the light on, hand out candy, and burn a wick in your pumpkin till all the goblins have headed home for the night.

 

So while we head into the season of Thanksgiving, when the harvest is plentiful, metaphorically speaking, remember the saints that came before us this November 1st.  Halloween will always have its pagan rituals (look how we’ve modernized St. Patrick’s Day, Fat Tuesday, and Easter, not to mention Christmas again…).  But I will always remember the blood of Christ’s martyrs on this hallowed day.

 

By: Kristine Mize

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